Digital identity service to place patients at the centre of their care

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Four Ontario hospitals are launching a digital identity service to give patients a convenient, reliable, accessible and secure method to access health information and services online. This initiative is being led by Niagara Health, building on the hospital’s foundational Navigator mobile app technology.

Niagara Health, Southlake Regional Health Centre, North York General Hospital, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and their technology partners, IDENTOS and SecureKey Technologies, are proud to introduce the Ontario trusted account, a service that allows patients to prove their identity online, just as they would in person using their Ontario Health Card, Driver’s License or Photo Card.

Patients in Ontario are currently served by a patchwork of digital tools and online health services. This fragmentation has created challenging experiences for patients who must use multiple login usernames and passwords to access these services, each with different levels of privacy and security standards. Offering a solution to these challenges, the Ontario trusted account allows patients to access a number of health-related services without having to log in and out each time, while providing them with full control over what information they choose to share and whom they share it with. Together with user consent, transparency and encryption that protects patient data, we are enabling seamless and secure access to digital health services or personal health information (PHI), making lives easier for Ontarians. A single Ontario trusted account is reusable across participating partners and enables patients to access resources and services across multiple platforms with one secure log-in.

The development of the Ontario trusted account builds on the Niagara Health Navigator mobile app, launched in 2019, which engages and connects patients to local health services. Through the app, users can check Emergency Department wait times, access COVID-19 resources at the hospital, including their test results, provide feedback about their care experience at the hospital, and find supports for caregivers.

The March 2021 release of the Ontario trusted account will be available to patients of Niagara Health and Southlake Regional Health Centre through the hospitals’ respective Navigator mobile applications. In this pilot phase, a subset of patients at Niagara Health’s Niagara Falls Site will be able to securely check in and confirm ultrasound appointments using the Ontario trusted account. At Southlake Regional Health Centre, patients can use the service to manage appointments for a variety of outpatient clinics starting with the hospital’s Hand Clinic and Cardiac Diagnostics Unit.

This patient digital identity service is an initiative funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health. The Government of Ontario selected Niagara Health and Southlake Regional Health Centre to lead this initiative in 2019. Niagara Health and Southlake Regional Health Centre then partnered with St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and North York General to develop a patient digital identity solution.

Later this year, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and North York General Hospital will launch their respective Navigator mobile applications giving patients in their communities the ability to use the Ontario trusted account. As the Ontario trusted account expands over time, it will allow patients at the four hospitals to:

Securely share personal health information with caregivers, other health care providers or family members.
Manage and access health information and digital health services (e.g., virtual care) from multiple providers using only one login and password.

Grant or remove access to health information using the application.

The province will continue to monitor and evaluate for potential expansion of the Ontario trusted account beyond the initial four hospitals.

Digital identity is a key enabler for the Digital First for Health Strategy and a key focus area for the government’s overall Digital Identity strategy. The Digital First for Health strategy will enable system integration and the sharing of information so that patients receive seamless care. The new service is supported by technology developed through the Digital Identity initiative.

The patient digital identity service is a part of the broader work being done by the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Ministry of Health to accelerate the adoption of digital identities and digital transformation within Ontario’s Health system to make patient access easier and more convenient. Digital Identity is part of Ontario Onwards: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government, which includes more than 30 projects that will change the way people and businesses interact with government.